Desktop Virtualization (VDI)

The X-IO Solution

X-IO’s hybrid Intelligent Storage Element offers guaranteed performance, guaranteed rated-performance-at-rated-capacity, and guaranteed reliability.

If you’re considering any hybrid storage array (or any traditional enterprise array, for that matter) for your VDI implementation, we guarantee our ISE 700 series will outperform your favorite hybrid, when full of the intellectual property your VDI users consume and create, and we’ll demonstrate that for you, at no cost to you, in a head-to-head bake-off in your VDI testbed.

We’ll install faster, run faster, and last longer, than any other hybrid storage array on the market. Every time.

How can we make this claim?

When we invented the first enterprise-grade hybrid storage array in 2011, we designed it with desktop and server virtualization front-and-center.

  • The Continuous Adaptive Data Placement (CADP) engine in the heart of every hybrid ISE ensures that the most in-demand data sets are always in our in-built enterprise-grade SSD tier, no matter what the VDI environment’s traffic patterns look like.
  • The ISE’s super-fast enterprise-grade hard disk drives deliver between 200% and 400% of the per-spindle performance of other hybrid arrays: the industry’s highest performance levels, and performance levels so robust that many of our customers are able to support  up to 500 desktop VDI environments on our ISE 200 series product, using hard disk drives alone.
  • Our dual-redundant, active-active Managed Reliability Controllers (MRCs) and their patented in-situ remanufacturing capability ensures that failed or failing drives are either brought back into service, or silently retired-in-place, with zero downtime due to media problems and no performance impact. Thousands of ISEs, in production since 2008, are running, right now, without a single hour of unplanned downtime, and without a single minute spent replacing failed or failing storage media. 
  • Our patented data placement and management algorithms ensure that our arrays deliver every single IO and every megabyte of throughput we promise, when the array is empty and when it it’s 99% full.

Many of the industry’s VDI performance high-water marks were set using X-IO hybrid ISEs. And our customers, report, uniformly, that their VDI environments sail through boot storms, run as fast when full as they did the first day they were in production, and never, ever, fail. “Set and forget VDI,” one of our customers called it. And that’s exactly what we were aiming for, when we invented the first true hybrid ISE in 2011.

The VDI storage industry is full of noise: grandiose undocumented claims, flashy promises and blog-o-rhea. Don’t take their word, or ours, for anything when it comes to storage performance in VDI environments. Instead, take our fast-when-full challenge.

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The Hyper ISE 730 Performance Review

What Our Customers Say…

“It used to take students 40 minutes before they could access their desktop – just in time for class to be over. Now we have our virtual desktops configured to log in on boot up. All 270 systems across all campuses are up and running in less than four minutes.”


“When speaking with X-IO, it was the first time a vendor was willing to fully address our questions regarding IOPS and performance. This made us feel very comfortable with the solution. Up until and even after deployment, all the other vendors we spoke with would skirt around the topic or change subjects completely.” – Director of Technology/Calallen ISD

Thoughts on Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization makes an economic promise: reduce the operating costs, and the operational complexities, of high-functionality desktop environments by replacing autonomous PCs and their applications with centralized software, delivered on demand to the desktop.

The costs of upgrade management, patch application, security management and distributed desktop support, the theory goes, disappear in a VDI environment, allowing stressed IT organizations to provide the functionality users expect with fewer resources, less hassle and at lower cost.

Simply put, VDI maintains or improves the user’s desktop experience while significantly reducing the cost and complexity of supporting modern intelligent desktops.

That’s the promise, anyway.

Reality is somewhat more nuanced.

VDI environments built on top of conventional frame-based enterprise arrays, with performance-throttling SAN controllers, are unsuited for VDI environments.

These enterprise arrays simply can’t respond to the read/write demand during boot storms, which occur in many VDI environments multiple times a day: in educational environments, as often as once an hour.

Boot times, for any given desktop, balloon: ten, twenty, even thirty minutes to complete a boot cycle for a few dozen, or a few hundred, virtualized desktops. Performance so poor that users find their working environment suddenly unworkable.

The conventional solution

The solution, as far as conventional enterprise array vendors are concerned is: more storage. Racks and racks of it. So much storage that VDI becomes more, not less expensive, than traditional desktops.

Experienced VDI practitioners know that traditional enterprise storage arrays don’t work, for VDI implementations. In part, that’s why all-flash-arrays and hybrid storage arrays were invented — to manage the storage-intensity of VDI boot storms, login storms and a greater proportion of write workloads during normal runtime.

And, because VDI environments are the only cost-effective method for supporting the massive differences between normal runtime and boot storms, more than half the VDI implementations in production today are supported by flash enabled storage arrays:

But because it makes very little sense to keep user profile data on expensive flash, most hybrid storage array vendors decided to pair commodity SSDs with low-performance, commodity hard drives, missing the rest of the VDI storage design problem.

VDI storage arrays:

  • Have to be as fast when they are full as they are when they are first provisioned. Most hybrid storage arrays cannot support two hundred — let alone five hundred or a thousand — virtual desktops when they’re 90% full, because they are dependent on the performance of their cheapest integrated component: low-performance, commodity-grade SATA hard drives.
  • Cannot have unplanned downtime. When a VDI storage array is down, every desktop supported by that array is down. Most flash enabled storage arrays either have no mechanisms for high-availability or — like the enterprise arrays — require upgrading the default over-provision capacity to increase reliability, which turns VDI from “cost effective” to “cost excessive.”

Delivering on the economic promise of VDI requires hybrid storage that can sail through the worst boot and login storms, handle heavy write workloads, run as fast full as empty, and never fail. Guaranteed.

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The Hyper ISE 730 Performance Review




Citrix Ready

Virtualization Demonstrations


Get This Citrix VDI Reference Architecture

High-Performance 750-Seat VDI Reference Architecture powered by X-IO and Citrix

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Get This X-Pod for VDI Reference Architecture

Providing a simple yet best of breed converged infrastructure for virtualized desktop solutions enabled by Cisco UCS, VMware Horizon View and the ISE 740 Hybrid Storage Array

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